In the Hebrew Bible and stories loyal to it, Goliath is the stereotypical giant of folklore: big, brash, violent, and dimwitted. Goliath as Gentle Giant sets out to rehabilitate the giant’s image by exploring the origins of the biblical behemoth, the limitations of the “underdog” metaphor, and the few sympathetic treatments of Goliath in popular media. What insights emerge when we imagine things from Goliath’s point of view? How might this affect our reading of the biblical account or its many retellings and interpretations? What sort of man was Goliath really? The nuanced portraits analyzed in this book serve as a catalyst to challenge readers to question stereotypes, reexamine old assumptions, and humanize the “other.”
Jonathan L. Friedmann is professor of Jewish music history and associate dean of the Master of Jewish Studies Program at the Academy for Jewish Religion California.
1. Underdog and Overdog
2. Source Materials
3. Xena’s Goliath:Grieving Avenger
4. Malcolm Gladwell’s Goliath:Frail Fighter
5. Tom Gauld’s Goliath: Warrior Impersonator
6. Conclusion: Other Goliaths
Appendix: Using and Reusing David and Goliath
Goliath as a Gentle Giant is a colossal contribution to where biblical scholarship, pop culture, and literary and media criticism intersect. Friedmann explores the fantasy and reality of Goliath—leading readers to expanded interpretation and compassion. An immense undertaking to grasp the heart of a giant.
Moving effortlessly from biblical commentary, classical literature, and archaeology to graphic novels, Xena the Warrior Princess, and Andre the Giant, Friedmann’s writing hits on a truly astounding number of cultural touchstones for those of us who aspire to the smart yet proudly geeky set. This book forever changes the readers’ relationship to the overused David-versus-Goliath metaphor, requiring us to question not just whether we’re really the David in our own struggles—as individuals or as a people—but perhaps more importantly, to ask what we don’t know about the motivation and experiences of our Goliaths.
3/31/22, Forward: The book and author were featured in this article.